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January 04, 1991 - Image 28

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-01-04

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The political strategy of
PLO leader Yassir Arafat
last week suffered a sav-
age blow at the hands of a
colleague for whom he
had sacrificed the most
glittering diplomatic
prize of his 22-year
stewardship of the Pales-
tinian movement.
In December 1988, Mr.
Arafat navigated the PLO
to full international
respectability, and an of-
ficial dialogue with the
United States, when he
formally renounced ter-
rorism and accepted UN
Security Council resolu-
tion 242, which implicitly
acknowledges Israel's
right to exist behind
secure borders.
The effects of these far-
reaching political conces-
sions were formally to
abandon the PLO's goal of
seeking Israel's destruc-
tion and an agreement in-
stead to pursue a two-
state solution — the es-
tablishment of a state of
Palestine alongside the
existing Jewish state.
However, on June 12
this year, Washington
suspended the dialogue
because Arafat refused to
publicly condemn and
punish Abul Abbas,
leader of the Baghdad-
based Palestine Libera-
tion Front and a member
of the PLO executive
committee, whose fighters
had mounted an abortive
seaborne raid on the
Israeli coast.
And last week, in a
major interview with the
British daily Guardian
newspaper, Abul Abbas
once again twisted the
knife which he had al-
ready plunged into
Arafat's diplomatic
The PLO, he asserted,
had been "forced to accept
resolution 242," but its
acceptance had been
simply a matter of polit-
ical expediency: "We say
that now because we have
to accept some kind of
state according to the UN

resolution. But once we
have that state, our
course will be very diff-
erent . . . that is only the
beginning for us.
"We will (then) seek
what might be called the
reunification of our coun-
try. If that can be achiev-
ed through peaceful
means, then good, it will
be a political struggle
only. But if not, it will be
achieved through violence
and political organization
Formal acceptance of
Israel's right to exist, he
said, was born out of polit-
ical necessity: "The goal
of the revolution is to es-
tablish our state," he
said, "and while we deal
with reality we never re-
ject the dream.
"Yes, maybe Arafat still
has this dream too . . . but
what he may hide in his
heart, we say openly."
Abul Abbas, who
masterminded the hijack-
ing of the Achille Lauro
cruise liner which led to
the killing of wheelchair-
bound Leon Klinghoffer,
remained unrepentant
about his adherence to the
sort of violence which the
PLO has officially aban-
doned and which
destroyed Arafat's hard-
won dialogue with the
United States.
"There is only one goal,
and to us the military op-
tion and the political op-
tion toward obtaining
that goal are the same
thing, inseparable .. .
When your rights are
taken by violence," he
said, "there is no choice
but to use violence."
His comments will serve
to further weaken the
Israeli left, deepen the en-
trenched suspicion of Pa-
lestinian intentions
among the Israeli right
and further complicate
prospects for a settlement
of the long-running
dispute after the Gulf
crisis is resolved. O

Helen Davis


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